Oblivians-Sympathy Sessions

October 14, 2008

Oblivians

Sympathy Sessions (Sympathy for the Record Industry 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?4wozdutmtii

Outside of the Buzzcocks, Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, I never really got into the poppy punk anthems of contemporaries like the Clash and Ramones. All of the 77-82 punk bands have moments which leave me humming like the fool I am, but I feel more kinship with those who twisted it into grubbier forms. Whether it be the bizarro concoctions on Wire’s first three albums or the Killed by Death series, punk just seemed like it should be alien, aggressive and ugly in its own beautiful manner. My wussy teen years led me to ignore the 60s Nuggets, Pebbles and Back from the Grave comps, but they felt like a stirring slap in the face once I heard the roots on punk in all its catchy and primitive glory.

One of the bands that opened my eyes to the gruff history of punk were the Oblivians. At the time, I had no inkling of their influences and garage rock had more to do with Animal House than anything else. However, their debut singles and eps captured what I always wanted from a punk band. It had a nasty streak a mile wide and the band played the living shit out of each song.  It was fast, shitty-sounding and their live set was a simple reminder that rock and roll can stir you like a gospel anthem in a church full of hopped up folks speaking in tongues.

Sympathy Sessions collects their early singles and eps for the Sympathy label and includes some of their absolute peaks and only a few meager valleys. Their collaboration with Quintron stands as the pinnacle of their career, but this is a great representation of what made them so immediate and special. No frills or ambition to make a grand statement; Sympathy Sessions is a reminder of punk’s kinship with 60s rock, gospel, R&B and the power of a bad attitude. It is a revival session for folks with a hankering for trouble.

Various Artists

Killed by Death: Volume One

http://www.mediafire.com/?jdyu7mmbtwl

Johan Kugelberg is somewhat or directly responsible for many things that I love in life: Ugly Things magazine, The Monks reissue and the major label debut of Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and V-3 as well as his crowning achievement, the first four volumes of Killed by Death.

The early Killed by Death comps document punk’s most belligerent and brilliant moments circa 1977-1982, but later comps piss in the bathwater and shine a light on lesser mortals. However, the first four volumes may be the most primal collections of punk I’ve heard. It belongs next to the Nuggets, Pebbles and Back to the Grave compilations as a logical extension to their documentation of the rawest nubs of rock. You can hear the groundwork for hardcore and other offshoots of punk in each track. However, these tracks bear little resemblance to British punks like the Clash, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and the Damned. The Ramones, Dead Boys, Voidoids, Dickies and Pagans were more up their alley.

Punk has always been a singles scene for me. Outside of the Wipers, Wire, Clash, Pere Ubu, Drive Like Jehu, Cheater Slicks, Oblivians, Saints and Real Kids, I cannot name many punk albums that I will listen from end to end without complaint. Therefore, these comps appeal to me because they skim the fat and leave us with the most lean, deserate sounds of American punk. Personally, I strongly believe the first volume of Killed by Death is flawless in every way. It captures the crude, ham-fisted glory of all that was great about this era in music.